Kenya(map)Kenya is situated along the equator on the east coast of central Africa and is about the size of Texas. Kenya’s geography is marvelously varied. From the coast on the Indian Ocean low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley, a fertile plateau in the west. The scenic Kenyan highlands and lake regions comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya (and the second highest in Africa): Mt. Kenya, which reaches 17,057 ft. Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft), Africa’s highest peak, is located on the Kenya-Tanzania border. Climate varies from tropical along the coast, which boasts pristine white-sand beaches, to arid in the flat, bush-covered interior. Kenya is still the primary focus of adventure travel in Africa; it is considered one of the finest safari destinations in the world.



Kenya has known the presence of humankind since the very earliest development of our species. Palentologists have discovered many fossils of prehistoric animals dating from the Mesozoic Era over 200 million years ago. The region has long been a migratory path, passed through by wave upon wave of peoples from all over Africa and, later from the Middle East as well. By the 10th century or so, the region had developed its own language, Swahili, which is a Bantu language heavily overlaid with Arabic. Among other familiar words, safari is a Swahili word, meaning simply travel. With the arrival of the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century, the East African coastal region was for a time dominated by the Europeans. However, in 1729 the Portuguese were expelled, to be replaced by two Arab dynasties. Arab rule lasted until the end of the 18th century, when Kenya passed into the British sphere of influence. The country became independent in 1963. Although it continues to experience its share of internal and external strife, Kenya has in recent years been moving toward a more stable, multi-party political system.


Kenya has a very diverse population (approx. 36.9 million people) that includes several different ethnic groups: Kikuyu , Luyia , Luo , Kalenjin , Kamba , Kisii , Meru. Kenyans are deeply religious; about 80% of Kenyans are Christian, 10% Muslim, and 10% follow traditional African religions. About 75% of the Kenyan work force is engaged in agriculture, mainly as subsistence farmers. The annual per capita income in Kenya is $360. Kenyan athletes continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Ethiopia has somewhat reduced this supremacy. 2001 saw Kenya’s first women-only 10K race. Some runners could not afford shoes. But women who make the leap from tending crops, fetching supplies, and raising children to the international running circuit can potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although the government has not been very supportive of the film industry in Kenya, the country offers spectacular scenery and can only be compared to South Africa in regard to producing some of the most talented actors on the African continent. Recent award-winning movies filmed in Kenya are: The Constant Gardner, Nowhere in Africa, and Out of Africa.


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